It seems that plenty of food sites, bloggers and magazines are posting spiced nut recipes for the holidays, and we are no exception. And the reason is very simple, spiced nuts are incredibly tasty, easy to make and are very welcome gifts. What’s not to like? Actually, the only thing not to like is your waistline after polishing off a few batches of these. But with so many other temptations this time of year, might as well enjoy the nuts and swear off them later with a New Year’s resolution. Live a little. Or give the nuts away before you eat them all. Your choice.
While everyone likes to share their recipes for spiced nuts, the “formulas” are all over the place. Some recipes are sweet, some salty, some spicy, some with maple, (some with bacon-yum), some olive oil and some with egg whites, and you can use almost any common nuts you can find. We make a few different versions of spiced nuts, but we generally like pecans and almonds with a little spice and the extra kick of finely chopped fresh herbs. The herbs add more aroma, deeper flavor and look very pretty. We also use a touch of egg white to bind the herbs and spices to the nuts. There is no impact on flavor, the herbs and spices simply stick to the nuts better using egg whites.
Making spiced, herbed nuts is one of the more pleasant cooking projects we can think of (probably another reason you see so many posts and recipes online). You simply select a few cups of nuts, chop some herbs, measure some salt and spices and then thoroughly toss the mixture with an egg white. Put the nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, mixing the nuts about halfway through, and you’re done. Your house will smell like the holidays, your family will magically appear in the kitchen, and probably your friends and neighbors, too.
The only real trick to good spiced nuts is to avoid overcooking them. Whether you use an egg white, oil or sugar to bind the spices and herbs to the nuts, the nuts may still feel a but moist and soggy after 15-20 minutes in the oven. This is mostly from the warm oils in the nuts, not the moisture of the coating. If you wait for the coating to totally dry in the oven, the nuts overcook and be chalky and brown on the inside. The best way to test for doneness is take a nut from the oven after 15 minutes, let it cool a minute and eat it. You will find that the cooling hardens the nut and sets the coating. The nut will be crunchy and tasty. If the nuts are ready, pull them from the oven. If not, give the nuts a few more minutes then pull them and let them cool. Then be ready to eat, or share….you will have plenty of friends.
Notes Before You Start:
- The recipe suggests pecans and almonds, but hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamias and even peanuts will work in this recipe.
- We use raw almonds but roasted almonds will also work and will not dry with a brief cooking time.
What You Get: Spiced nuts with some extra depth of flavor from the herbs. A great gift.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 30 minutes with 5-10 minutes of active time. Anytime dish.
(Makes 2 cups)
- 2 cups of raw, unsalted pecans and almonds (or other nuts)
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- White of 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray, for baking sheet
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium baking sheet with the oil or cooking spray.
- Place the nuts, egg white, salt, herbs and spices in a large bowl. Mix until all the nuts are evenly coated.
- Place the nuts on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring the nuts halfway through the cooking. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, allow the nuts to cool completely and then serve.
- Noix, Nuts (cafedion.typepad.com)
- Oatmeal Cookie Recipe from 1962 (foodiefriendsfridaydailydish.com)
- Cinnamon and Spice Roasted Nut Medley (stronglikemycoffee.com)
- Party Snack Recipe: Sweet and Savory Roasted Cashews – Recipes from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- Sugar Coated Pecans Recipe (myhoustonmajic.com)
- Herbed Almonds Recipe (dinosdiscoveries.com)